Bernie & Bill | Freyne Land

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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Bernie Sanders
Bernie & Bill

Posted By on Sat, Jun 2, 2007 at 10:03 AM

Not "Clinton."

How about "Moyers," as in, Bill Moyers, who's back on PBS - and Vermont Public Television - with a Friday night program as only Bill Moyers does it [and available online!], called Bill Moyers' Journal

The topic: "congressional ethics," or the lack thereof.

And when it comes to buying Congress - a better return on investment than Wall Street - "No one," notes Moyers, "is better at it than the drug industry." And to hit home his point, Bill turns to a familiar face in Vermont - Independent United States Sen. Bernie Sanders.

(Senate floor, May 2, 2007): Since 1998, the pharmaceutical industry has spent over $900 million on lobbying activities; $900 million since 1998. That is more than any other industry in the United States of America. It is hard to believe, but there are now over 1,200 prescription drug lobbyists right here in America, many of them right here on Capitol Hill. That amounts to more than two lobbyists for every member of the House and the Senate. They have us all well covered.

BILL MOYERS: Money well spent.

Look at what happened just last month when the drug companies fought an effort by Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota to lower the prices we pay for our medication.

(D- ND; Senate floor, May 1, 2007): The fact is, the American consumers are charged the highest prices for prescription drugs anywhere in the world.

BILL MOYERS: So Dorgan proposed to let Americans import drugs from abroad, where they are often sold at far lower prices — like the cholesterol drug, Lipitor.

SEN. DORGAN: FDA-approved medicine produced in an FDA-approved plant in Ireland and then sent to Canada and the United States. The difference? Well no difference — same plastic in the bottle, same medicine inside — except the price. The Canadian pays $1.83 per tablet, and the American pays $3.57--96% more. The American consumer is told: Guess what, we have a special deal for you, you get to pay 96% more for the same medicine.

BILL MOYERS: It's no wonder 80% of Americans in one Harris Poll favored allowing drugs to be imported from abroad.

But 80% of the public can't compete in the Senate with the Washington drug cartel. In the end, industry won and Dorgan's proposal for cheaper drugs was buried.

(interview): As powerful as the oil companies are, as powerful as the banks are, as powerful as corporate America, in general, is, in influencing legislation, the pharmaceutical industry stands as a world unto itself. They never lose.

BILL MOYERS: For Senator Bernie Sanders, the issue goes to the very heart of the political process.

It's not just the need to lower the cost of prescription drugs. It's really a question as to whether or not the United States Congress can, in fact, represent ordinary Americans, and stand up to extraordinarily well funded, powerful, special interests. And so far, for the last many years, we have been failing that test.

BILL MOYERS: Many new members of Congress agree with him.



Bill Moyers was President Lyndon Baines Johnson's press secretary. And he shared with viewers the audio of a phone conversation LBJ had in May of 1964 with McGeorge Bundy, National Security Adviser. Here's a snippet, but do check the whole thing out.

"Reality." What a concept!

LBJ;  I would tell you...the more that I stayed awake last night thinking of this...and the more that I think of it...I don't know what in the hell...we...looks like to me that we're getting into another Korea. It just worries the hell out of me. I don't see what we can ever hope to get out of there with...once we're committed.....and I just thought about ordering...ordering those kids in there...and what in the hell am I ordering them out there for? It's damn easy to get into a war, but it's...going to be harder to ever extricate yourself if you get in...

BILL MOYERS: That was May, 1964. 260 Americans had been killed in Vietnam by then. Eleven years and two presidents later, when U.S. forces pulled out, 58,209 Americans had died and an estimated three million Vietnamese.

When will we ever learn?

When will we ever learn?

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

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